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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

548                                                                           RAPID   POPULATION   (iKUWTJri-ll
"converting the American mother's womb into a slaughter-house or latrine" (18).
Altamirano's identification of population growth and nationalism is a dominant theme. A heady mix of Juan Bautista Alberdi's demographic slogan with one of Altamirano's favorite biological metaphors produces the following: "To populate continues meaning to civilize, the only difference being that (in this century) the population still needed to civilize America should emerge vigorous and pulsating from the womb of [Latin] American mothers" (19). So vital is population growth that its antonym (birth control) is death's synonym: "When we achieve the demographic density of the great European powers, we shall see if the threat of poverty allows no alternative to suicide" (20).
Little wonder that Altamirano can refer to Lleras' position as one of "extreme pessimism" when his own approaches ethereal optimism:
The sea is yielding herself to us like a virgin land that once offered herself as a path to unknown territories and fabulous resources. Technology makes the every inch of land a source of riches. Where a tree cannot grow, something else is produced for man. The craggy mountain peak becomes a site to store the water or snow which produces the electricity which in the hands of man will make bread fall from heaven . . . yielding sustenance for all. (21)
Five years ago such optimism was typical of the Latin American intellectual and even, to a lesser extent, of the international agencies. In the past few years, however, Altamirano has had to deal with a growing number of agencies, such as "the FAO, the UNICEF, and even the UNESCO and the OAS, entering the movement under the supreme command of the U.N., spreading the crass error that our population growth is falling behind the increase in food production" (22). His charges against the international organizations soon became more specific, and the new year of 1967 was ushered in with an editorial entitled "Both UNESCO and the FAO in the Racist Plot." It should not be thought, however, that the plot is restricted to the European and North American organizations typically the target of Altamirano's ire. In condemning demography as a new profession created "to manipulate statistics to prove that the whirlpool of population growth requires birth control," he jabs quickly at the Economic Commission of Latin America (ECLA) (23). In other editorials he adds the Inter-American Committee on the Alliance for Progress (CIAP) (24), the Pan American Health Organization, and the Latin American Center of Demography (CELADE), which he terms a "genocidal Center" (25).
Indeed, there are few institutions or classes of people which are exempt from attack. In one editorial he attacks "leader classes, academicians, thinkersges, quoted by permission of the copyright holder.